A new Washington, D.C., exhibit of artworks depicting familiar, rare and iconic plants and trees of America’s national parks showcases five species of flowering plants found in Shenandoah National Park – the familiar American witchhazel, Virginia springbeauty, and staghorn sumac; the uncommon yellow lady’s slipper; and the iconic large-flowered trillium.
“Flora of the National Parks” opened Thursday, Feb. 18 in the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) on the National Mall. Free of charge and open to the public every day through Oct. 2, 2016, the exhibition features more than 75 illustrations, paintings, photographs, and other art forms — from intimate 12-inch pieces to large-scale, 7-foot dramatic panoramas — that showcase key plant life in national parks across the country. The garden is staging the show to mark this year’s centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) and to highlight the diversity of the nation’s flora protected within national parks.
The five pieces of art highlighting the flora of Shenandoah National Park included in the exhibit are:
- A watercolor painting of the American witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana, by Betty Gatewood, former Interpretation and Education Park Ranger at Shenandoah National Park.
- An acrylic on canvas painting of the Virginia springbeauty, Claytonia virginica, by Frances Coates.
- An acrylic on canvas painting of the staghorn sumac, Rhus typhina, by Kellie Cox.
- A colored pencil drawing of the yellow lady’s slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum, by Mary Abrecht.
- A colored pencil drawing of the large-flowered trillium, Trillium grandiflorum,by Mary Abrecht.
“We are thrilled to present this exhibit showcasing the biodiversity of plants and landscapes in our national parks,” said Ari Novy, United States Botanic Garden executive director. “Our mission is to connect people with plants. There is no substitution for actually experiencing plants alive in their native ecosystems. We hope this exhibit will inspire people to explore and value plants in their native habitats, especially at our amazing national parks.”
“We are delighted that Shenandoah National Park is among the park’s being featured in this wonderful exhibit of both plants and artwork”, said Shenandoah superintendent Jim Northup. “We encourage everyone to go see the show, and then, come see all these plants in their native habitat in the park” he added.
The show includes vegetation both rare and familiar in parks from Florida to Alaska and from Maine to Hawaii. The artworks represent NPS locations such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Homestead National Monument of America, and Acadia National Park.
Among the many plant and tree species depicted are iconic flora such as coast redwood, bald cypress, saguaro cactus, ghost orchid, and mountain magnolia. Large graphics on the gallery floor also depict the ground surface in different national parks so that visitors “stand in” the plants’ and trees’ landscape as they move through the gallery. Plants from the U.S. Botanic Garden collection accompany the exhibit.
Programs connected with the exhibit will be offered throughout the run, including botanical illustration and photography workshops, meet-the-artist events to interact with the artists included in the exhibit, and lectures by national park rangers and other floral experts from across the country.
The artworks were selected from among submissions by hundreds of artists last fall for the eight-month show, which is installed in the USBG Conservatory near the foot of the U.S. Capitol on the National Mall, 100 Maryland Ave. S.W., Washington, DC. The USBG is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America, with more than one million visitors annually. More information about the exhibit, programs, and visiting the USBG is available at www.USBG.gov/